#135 ~ My Lady of Cleves

January 14, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Books, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction, Reading | 9 Comments
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cover-of-my-lady-of-cleves
My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Anne of Cleves was the most unlikely of all of Henry VIII’s wives. She did not especially want to be queen, she was not physically beautiful, and she was rather forced upon him in order to produce an heir. Yet, along with Katherine of Aragon, she is a wife to which Henry should have cleaved to permanently. She is also my favorite. The first time I learned of her and found out that she was from a territory that is now the Netherlands, she had a special place in this Dutch heart of mine. Therefore, when I first heard of this novel on Reading Adventures, I new that I had to read it. I couldn’t have been more pleased when a wonderful co-worker of mine gave it to me for my birthday. Thank you, Poorna!

From the beginning, Barnes covers the known facts about the search for Henry’s fourth wife, Anne’s betrothal, her first regrettable moments with Henry, their short marriage, and swift divorce deftly. As much as I loved The Boleyn Inheritance, it is the author’s interpretation of those events that make this novel such a delight to read. For example, Barnes’ Anne did not want to leave her country, her family, or her people. This is just as well because her sister Amelia was prettier and was excited by the prospect of becoming queen. To her surprise, Hans Holbien, the artist sent to paint the portraits of the royal daughters of Cleves saw a beauty in her that most missed. The way this quality was painted is exactly what captured Henry’s eye. Unfortunately, Henry couldn’t see that when they met in person. The way in which the events surrounding their divorce played out in this novel was interesting and this view of Anne was endearing. I like to think of her in this way.

There was one lost opportunity in this novel. After Henry chooses Anne, we next find her on her journey to England. We do not experience how the news of Henry’s choice impacts Anne, her family, or the people she serves. We do not see her leave her home for the last time. We do not see how being overlooked by a king affected Amelia. As Anne’s life in England as it pertains to the throne are well known, it is precisely those missing details that would really grab and inspire my imagination. Certainly I can make up my own scenes, but I read historical fiction to have those undocumented moments come alive on the page. This was a minor drawback. It did not keep me from enjoying this novel at all. Still, the mild disappointment over what could have been, especially with an author so skilled, remains with me.

My Lady of Cleves is a novel I will always cherish. She was a strong woman who had to work hard to overcome her looks, which always felt like a shortcoming to her. I can’t quite place my finger on a specific passage, but Chapters 17 and 18 were beautiful in the way in which they depict the turning point in Anne’s life. What was accomplished there made the novel and solidified Anne’s place in my heart among Henry’s wives. She deserved the freedom and solitude that she found at Richmond. I’d wager that she was the only woman deeply involved with Henry who died happy and content with her life. I am glad that the author chose to bring Anne to the forefront. Historical figures do not have to be tyrants or tarts to be compelling. Sometimes a heroine with just a dash of fire when scorned is exactly what is needed to satisfy. This novel is a must for Tudor fans, but would be a delight for any reader.

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To buy this book, click here.

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Mailbox Monday ~ 10.13.08

October 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe | 12 Comments
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Happy Monday and Happy Columbus Day (for my US readers). I had a busy week in my mailbox, which is very nice when I’m actually opening the mail.  However, when I get to looking at my bookshelf, it gets quite intimidating.  So, here is what I found in my mailbox last week:

Broad Street by Christine Weiser ~ sent by Philadelphia Stories

I have read some interesting information about this novel, so I decided to give it a chance.  It’s about an all girls band, so I’m hoping that it will be a lot of fun.

Off the Menu by Christine Son ~ sent by the publisher

I received this book because I’ll be participating in the author’s TLC Book Tour in November.  I love the title, especially for Thanksgiving.

The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman ~ signed and sent by the author

Thank you so much, Erika!  I am so thrilled to have a copy of this novel, as I originally rented it from the library.  In case you didn’t know, there are three ways you can win a copy of this wonderful novel.  Click here for the details.

A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books by Lorilee Craker ~ unknown origin

I’m not sure how I received this book.  I searched my email for a clue, but came up with nothing.  It’s a fun baby name book, though.  My baby naming days are over, but it’s fun to look up names of people you know.  I can already say this would make a great gift for a mommy or daddy-to-be who loves to read.

Bedlam South by Mark Grisham and David Douglas ~ sent by the publicist

Marcia wrote an excellent review of this novel and I can’t wait to get started.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti ~ Sent by Lisa at Minds Alive on the Shelf

I won this book in her super awesome contest, even though I requested it using the wrong title. 🙂  Thanks for the great contest, Lisa!

My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes ~ a gift from my co-worker

One of the contractors who works with us asked me to give him some book titles because he wanted to buy me a book for my birthday.  Of the list, he selected this novel, which received rave reviews from Marg at Reading Adventures.  I was so excited to open it.  I can’t wait to read it.  Anne of Cleves is such an interesting character to me.

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